What happens when you bring a group of people from different backgrounds together with the desire of seeing God’s kingdom come?? What happens when these people join together in worship of one God? What happens when these people sit around a table to openly discuss the critical importance of prayer in God’s kingdom? What happens when these people humble themselves to hear from one another the heart cry for God to renew their city? In a word, unity happens.
That’s what happened at Transforming Melbourne’s recent prayer consultation. I had the privilege to attend what was a gathering of pastors, ministry leaders, prayer leaders from around the city. With all distinctions and backgrounds irrelevant, each person came to seek how the kingdom of God might come through prayer, united prayer.
The day was structured with three focuses around prayer: adoration, intercession, and declaration. Adoration focused upon putting God in the right place through worship, reflection upon Kingdom-focused prayer, and personal prayer. Intercession was a time of praying for our city, discussing and hearing from others where God is at work in our city. Declaration was more time spent in prayer, in small groups and as a whole, declaring God’s promise for our city.
Did I mention that this was a 9am-4pm event? Time flew.
Personally, there were some key moments which have impacted me and I pray and hope will become a reality in my life. As the day began with worship, I was instantly struck by the realisation of a spirit of fear within me. I’m now reminded of Paul’s words to his young disciple, Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (NLT; 2 Timothy 1:7)
What am I fearful of? I’m fearful of what God might do if I completely surrendered myself to His enabling. As I honestly reflect, much of my life and ministry has been operating through, what I term, limited surrender. It is, also, something which I see operating in much of the church. For the majority of faithful believers, I believe, it is not a lack of desire to see God’s kingdom come but rather a fear of what God will do should we surrender to Him.
My prayer is that the words of Paul to Timothy would become alive in me. To strike a balance between the power and boldness which the Spirit enables, a love sourced from the heart of the Father, and self-discipline to be grounded and steadfast as I continue the work of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the means by which I seek to keep myself accountable is the idea of a prayer shield. By all accounts, the work of the Gospel that is not grounded in prayer is a failure to begin with. It is through prayer which God works through His people. So what is this prayer shield? Well, any image of shields one can think of is entirely suitable, just multiply it a few times over.
The idea of a prayer shield is having people around you cover you with prayer, as a shield-bearer might cover a soldier in battle. Except it doesn’t stop with one. It is a ring of shields around you, expanding out from a small tight group who support you at the centre. Surrounded by another circle of prayer, surrounded further by another circle of prayer. And it’s not about the individual either, rather, for every person that prays they too are encouraged to invite others to shield them in prayer. In my mind, it moves from being individual units to interlinked chains upholding one another in prayer for the coming of the kingdom of God.
There is so much more that could be shared, however I leave you with a verse which underlines the desire to see the coming of God’s kingdom:
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgiven their sin and heal their land.” (ESV; 2 Chronicles 7:14)